Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Film #66: The Conversation


Gene Hackman and Francis Ford Coppola were white-hot in 1974. Hackman had already delivered Jan Troell's underrated Zandy's Bride with Liv Ullmann, and Coppola was finishing up The Godfather Part II when they quietly eked out The Conversation, one of the most unexpected masterpieces of the 1970s, which landed Coppola the International Grand prize at the 1974 Cannes Film Festival. The film follows brooding surveillance expert Harry Caul (Hackman) as he obsesses over a recording he believes is of two people (Cindy Williams and Fredric Forrest) fretting over their affair and fearing violent repercussions from the woman's husband (Robert Duvall), who's the CEO of the imposing corporation who hired Caul to spy on the couple in the first place. His conscience starting to eat away at him, Caul makes attempts to withhold the surveillance results from Duvall and his plain-talking toady (Harrison Ford), but his moral stance backfires quite harshly on him.
With its bugging technology and crushing sense of paranoia, Coppola's original screenplay for The Conversation was quite timely in 1974, since Watergate fever was sweeping the populace (the script was written by FFC years earlier, however). This potent resemblance of life to art probably explains how the great film still managed a Best Picture nod
while winning only two other nominations (for its screenplay and another for its sound). Hackman mysteriously escaped a nod for his about-to-blow portrayal of a man consumed with mistrust; it's one of the five best showings of his career (I love that see-thru raincoat he wears---it's yet another murky layer for us to peer through in this movie). Also of special note is the fine, lackdaisical editing and inventive sound design by post-production master Walter Murch (Apocalypse Now, The English Patient). The film might seem to creep along, but that's a result its possessing almost no musical score (what a relief) and a very spare plot--The Conversation is quite a bit more about its socially-withered lead character than it is about his latest case. In fact, the case is dropped as a focus about halfway through and picked up again twenty minutes after that. I think Coppola's film is all about a man who, by virtue of his stressful job, has a best friend (John Cazele) who isn't a confidant; a girlfriend (Teri Garr) who isn't a lover; and a rival (an excellent, irritating Allen Garfield) who isn't even an enemy. All the humanity in Harry Caul was long ago decimated by his snooping; he's now just a mere organic extension of his mechanical toys. (The fantastic final shot proves this, though it gives a strange sense of hope that Harry's gonna find another line of work to get into.)

This is a little-known fact, but The Conversation is based on the experiences of one of San Francisco's leading 1970s-era private eyes--the same P.I. who invented the-microphone-in-the-martini-olive. How do I know this? I live here in Brooklyn with one of his San Fran P.I. students, who told her he was interviewed by his close friend Coppola in connection with the movie!

I love The Conversation. It's a paranoia-steeped, post-Kennedy-assassination 1970s touchstone, just like Executive Action, The Parallax View and Targets, just to name a few in the subgenre. Finally, can I mention that The Conversation was advertised in 1974 newspapers with one of my favorite ad photos:And to think....you couldn't even show a toilet in a MOVIE until Psycho came along!!!! Fifteen years later, they'd be in the newpaper ads. Ahhh, sweet progress.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Side Orders #4: The Music Edition


I've been fooling around on playlist.com all day making a new set of tunes for my facebook page. My playlists are also a new feature on filmicability; just scroll down the sidebar a bit and you'll see the playlist box ! Honestly, I'm almost as much of a music junkie as I am a movie nut, so be sure that it's a collection worth listening to: it's quite diverse, once you plumb its depths. There's something for everybody there! And so, needless to say, as a result of my playlisting, I'm in a massively tuneful mood today, so for this edition of SIDE ORDERS, I'm highlighting some of my favorite musical scenes in movies, coincidentally all commanded or supported by great female actors.

My first choice is a rather unusual one. TV producer Bruce Paltrow, husband of actress Blythe Danner and father of the lovely Gwyneth, made only his second feature film in 2000 with the kareoke-based comedy-drama-musical Duets. Now, a whole movie about kareoke competitors sounds goofy, I know, but I checked it out anyway, mainly because its cast was so fine: Gwyneth is in it, natch, but so is Huey Lewis (a really effective actor, I might add), Paul Giamatti (who spiritedly sings Otis Redding's "Try A Little Tenderness"), Maria Bello, Scott Speedman, Andre Braugher (who performs a surprising a capella number I won't reveal here) and, in smaller roles, Angie Dickinson and Maya Rudolph. Boy, was I surprised by this movie. It's a little slight and even dumb sometimes, but it always has its heart in the right place, and it really gets the excitement of kareoke down. I'm an avid kareoke performer, so I should know. You can feel your heart racing along with our heroes as the track gears up and they sidle up to the mike. There's lots more going on in Duets than you might think, but I won't get into plotlines; just see it on a lazy Sunday afternoon and don't demand too much of it, and you won't be disappointed.

I especially found touching the strained-but-softening relationship between kareoke conman Lewis and his estranged daughter Paltrow. She's longing for a relationship with her long-wandering father, and he doesn't want any of it, until he finallly comes around in this scene where he invites her up to sing with him. Paltrow's jittery happiness here is palpable, probably because she was so pleased to do this one film with her own father behind the camera. Because of this, I think her performance in this scene is very fetching; she looks so happy that she's gonna cry, and that make me tear up a bit. Vivid is the father/daughter interplay between these two singers performing together for the first time, as each gets intimate with the other's specific vocal inflections (I love how Lewis and Paltrow wordlessly communicate with their eyes, microphones, and hand gestures.) It's a bittersweet scene, too, because Bruce Paltrow sadly passed away soon after the release of Duets, a loss that notoriously and, of course, understandably left Gwyneth devastated. Lewis and Paltrow has a top 40 hit with this version of Smokey Robinson's 80s hit "Crusin'" but I think the version recorded for the movie is better. All around, this is a sublime moment in a charming little flick.


I enjoyed immensely French director Francois Ozon's See The Sea and Sitcom, but nothing prepared me for 8 Women. I sat down expecting to see something quite dark, since I knew the film was about the locked-house murder of the man in the lives of the titular women: his sexbomb sister (Emanuelle Beart), his wife Gaby (Catherine Denueve); their two daughters, Suzon (Virginie Ladoyen) and Catherine (Ludivine Sagnier); Gaby's wackadoo sister Augustine (Isabelle Huppert), and their moneygrubbing mother (Danielle Darriaux); the house cook (Firmine Richard), and the new maid, Louise (Fanny Ardant). What I DIDN'T know about the movie was that it was a musical! So when this charming first number between the two reunited sisters first popped up, I was flabbergasted in a way I can't ever say I had experienced. I was also aroused, perhaps guiltily, because I adore Sagnier (who later left her little girl look behind in Ozon's sexy Swimming Pool) and especially Ladoyen, whom I'd thought was the most achingly beautiful woman in movies since I'd seen her in Benoit Jacquot's mesmerizing A Single Girl (which is basically a loving 90-minute study of Ladoyen's face). This girly, pinkish scene is textbook cuteness all the way, a return to childhood for these two joyful characters--a celebration of an innocence about to be shattered...


James Ivory is often considered to be a British director, since so many of his films take place in the UK. Before he gave us one of 1998's best movies, A Soldier's Daughter Never Cries, he'd delivered such tastes of Brit angst and joy as The Remains of the Day, Maurice, A Room With A View, Quartet, and Howards' End. But Ivory is not British! He was all-American, Berkeley CA-born in 1928, which makes him well-suited to helm this story about an American expatriate family living in France who struggle losingly to hide their red-white-and-blue background. A Soldier's Daughter Never Cries is structured in three chapters: The first, "Billy," tells of the adoption of a little French boy (Samuel Gruen) by the family, which consists of writer/father Bill (Kris Kristofferson), intellectual social butterfly mother Marcella (Barbara Hershey) and spoiled daughter Channe (played at seven by Luisa Conlon). The second chapter "Francis" takes up seven years later. Channe (Leelee Sobieski) and Billy (Jesse Bradford) are now in their mid-teens, and Channe finds herself drawn in school to a flamboyant, effeminate opera enthusiast named Francis (Anthony Ross-Costanzo) who becomes her best friend and eventually her slight burden. And the finale, "Father," sees the whole family adjusting to their move back to the states when Bill gets sick and starts longing for his homeland once again.

A GREAT MOVIE. Nothing like it--luminous, vivid, cleverly written and cast. Just a perfect film, really. Nothing wrong with it. In my favorite scene, Channe and Francis are in class when Francis is visited by his mother (Jane Birkin), with whom he has offered a performance in class. Channe has no idea what's about to come, and neither do the giggling classmates. Side note: while working at Kim's Video in Manhattan, the star of this scene, Anthony Ross-Costanzo (who was nominated for an Independant Spirit Award for his supporting performance, and deserved an Oscar nomination as well) came ambling up to the counter where I was stationed. I recognized him immediately!! I said "Oh, my God! Anthony Ross-Costanzo, right?" and he was SHOCKED. He said I was the first person who ever recognized him. I told him I loved Soldier's Daughter, and he stated laughingly that I was one of the ten people who'd seen it. He was very flattered by my recognition and said he was going to be having dinner with James Ivory soon and that he'd mention how much I liked the movie! (I was blown away by the notion of my love of the film being discussed in this fashion, as Ivory is one of the greatest directors alive.) I asked him why he didn't do more movie work, and he said he was too busy singing, which makes sense as you will see. He told me that Ivory didn't tell Sobieski what he was going to do in front of the class, which is how he got such a strong reaction from her. Anthony then nicely pointed out that the store needed to move the James Ivory films out of the British section and into the American Directors section. I said "Yeah, I know...we'll get on that, man." But Ivory's work is still stubbornly stuck there in UK section beside the David Lean and Mike Leigh movies, dang it!


Finally, I will highlight a scene from Ken Russell's highly underrated film version of the Who's rock opera, Tommy, about the deaf, dumb and blind kid (Who front-man Roger Daltry) who sure plays a mean pinball. Everybody knows the story. The cast is filled with rocking legends: Elton John (as the giant-booted Pinball Wizard), Tina Turner (the leggy, overstimulated Acid Queen), Eric Clapton (a blues-spounting priest at a church that worships graven images of Marilyn Monroe), Who drummer Keith Moon (the devious Uncle Ernie), now-forgotten Brit-rocker Paul Nicholas (as pain-in-the-ass Cousin Kevin), Jack Nicholson (yes, he sings), and Oliver Reed (he sort of does too). But the movie is stolen hands down by the busty, sexy, incredible Ann-Margret, playing Tommy's mother, whom we follow from her late teens to her middle-age. Ann won her second Oscar nomination for this spellbinding role. In fact, she's so great, I have to show you two scenes. I just can't pick between the two. Both are SO stunning. In the first, we see how Tommy is shocked into his affliction. His real father (Robert Powell) has supposedly died in the war, and his mother is about to have sex with her new husband-to-be Oliver Reed. But Tommy's disfigured dad makes a surprise return and the results are terrifying. The direction here is hot and jolting; when I saw this at nine years old, it really affected me deeply--perhaps you could say it even wounded me. But I greatly treasure the scar it left.


Now this is the thing that landed Ann the Oscar nom and and won her a Golden Globe. This is not only because she was positively volcanic, but because she performed so joyously in the sloppy climactic muck of this famous bit, which I will now set up for you: Tommy has just won the pinball championship and bested Elton's Wizard. Mom is at home watching the spactacle on TV, surrounded by riches in her all-white bedroom, but disappointed still in how life has turned out for her and her mentally-blocked son. By the end of this notorious number, you will know that Ann-Margret earned her paycheck the day or three this was filmed. By the way, I must say here that I could not get enough of Tommy when I was a kid; I'd say that, next to 2001: A Space Odyssey, it's the movie I've seen the most on the big screen--maybe about 40 times. For a music- and movie-loving kid with a fascination with pop art and beautiful women, this scene and this film itself was, ironically, a goddamn eye- and ear-opener. As the ads for Tommy promised, my senses would never be the same.


Pretty good tunes, huh? Love 'em, love 'em, love 'em to pieces.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Film #64: M.A.S.H.

1970's M.A.S.H. had a bottomless effect on me long before I actually got to see it. Imagine being an intelligent nearly seven-year old movie addict and going with his extra-cool parents to the Atlanta's space-agey North-85 Drive-In concession stand around, oh, say, 1973. And, week after week, as you wander amongst the Alice Cooper and Kung Fu pinball machines while your dad orders the movie snacks, you find this unforgettable yellow poster prominantly affixed to the wall:

What an arresting image, this hand shooting us the peace symbol with a woman's legs smartly attached to its haunches, and a little brain-bucket on the fingers. And the simple, impassioned reviews (which I then understood, somehow).

I was, whoa, like, "What is THIS?!?!" I was strongly impacted by this image's double meaning: peace and love and? war. And the insistant sexuality poking right out there on my face really got to me, too. The bottom half of that hand really looked like a woman's ass, even to my inexperienced eyes (so much so that cream-puff newspaper ads, I later discovered, superimposed fake "pants" on the "ass" in question). I think this image--a product of marketing, I assume, if not Altman's vision, which seems much more believeable--has in my mind rocketed past all other market-driven images to deeply affect even my own political and social beliefs! How 'bout that, modern drivel-based marketing drones?!

Alas, I never saw M.A.S.H. in its entirety until I was much older--like 19 or so. As a pre-teen, I remember being in the backseat of my parent's car as we were watching it, but I guess I couldn't grasp its treasures as a kid, so I inevitably fell asleep. God bless my parents, they were so understanding! I don't know how I got so lucky, really! Here I am, begging Lynn and Buddy to see this movie they didn't like at all (and it was always a second feature, mind you). Man, they had to've been mystified as to what they had on their hands kid-wise, this little 8-year-old guy who wanted to see Robert Altman's first major film. They probably watched me fall asleep at least seven times in the 1970s as I tried to take in M.A.S.H. Ahhh, now that I ruminate on it, it was probably a blessing to 'em (though I was a notoriously quiet baby).

But I stuck to my effort to see M.A.S.H., and dutifully discovered that the great American autuer Robert Altman had found his breakthrough film in this brilliant comedy adapted by Ring Lardner Jr. from Richard Hooker's controversial book (which holds a near-record as the most publisher-rejected classic novel of all time). M.A.S.H. stars Donald Sutherland and Elliott Gould as, respectively, Captain Benjamin Franklin "Hawkeye" Pierce and Captain "Trapper" John McIntyre. They are two surgeons for a Mobile Army Surgical Hospital unit stationed smack dab in the middle of the 1950s' Korean War. M.A.S.H. follows them and their fellow enlistees as they fight war-torn death, disease, and boredom with grand pranks and cutting one-liners that assault the viewer at every turn (Lynn, my mother, told me she was sickened by the movie for years because it reminded her of the Vietnam footage she was seeing on the nightly news at that time, and she couldn't understand then how surgeons could make fun of such horror).
The episodic structure of the film (which may account for the Oscar given to Ring Lardner for his often discarded screenplay) and the chaotic direction (now an Altman staple) were quite new for 1970 and still today are fresh and exciting. Altman's use of sound grabbed particular attention, as it was arguably the first popular film since Howard Hawks' 1930s heyday to have numerous main characters talking over each other so that the viewer has to follow several conversations simultaneously (Altman lorded over the sound board, raising and lowering individual microphone levels as the actors improvised a lot of their dialogue).

An immense box-office success, M.A.S.H launched the careers of virtually everyone in it. Sutherland, Gould and Robert Duvall (as Frank Hackett) became 1970s superstars; Sally Kellerman, as Lt. Margaret "Hot Lips" Houlihan, gained an Oscar nomination (in my opinion, largely because she dared to do full-frontal nudity in one of the film's key scenes); and Gary Burghoff, the only actor to make the transition, went on to win an Emmy in the role of Corporal "Radar" O'Reilly in the smash hit TV series based on the movie. For you who are sorely uninitiated, here's the first few minute of the movie. Imagine being use to square stuff and then seeing THIS!Made during the think of the Vietnam War, M.A.S.H. was notorious for being a war movie (or an anti-war movie) in which only one shot was fired (see if you can spot it!). And you gotta love that loudspeaker--it's a real character unto itself, and provides the movie with one of the best credits sequences ever. Along with composer Johnny Mandel, Altman's son Mike wrote the searing lyrics to the movie's theme song "Suicide is Painless" (still one of the most neglected movie songs not to get a Best Song Oscar nomination). It was also nominated for Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Film Editing.
Finally, the unparalleled cast: Tom Skerritt, Jo Ann Pflug, John Schuck, Roger Bowen (extremely funny as Lt. Henry Blake), Michael Murphy, G. Wood, Carl Gottlieb (who later wrote Jaws and The Jerk), the film debut of "Blaxsploitation" superstar Fred Williamson, David Arkin, Bud Cort (who later did Harold and Maude), and even football great / That's Incredible! host Fran Tarkenton make impressions. You gotta see M.A.S.H., if you haven't already. Trust me, it's fun and bizarre.

And now I pay tribute to the long lost Robert Altman. In a most unusual way, I found out Altman died on November 20th, 2006. I was wandering around the yellow lights of New York, considering moving back up to NYC from Atlanta. I called my then-girlfriend Stephanie, a supportive and strong lady. Things were not going so well for me, but she still rightfully informed me that Robert Altman had died. She had been with me when I bought Patrick McGilligan's excellent biography of the great filmmaker, so she knew of my deep love for him. When I received the call, I was on the New York streets, right in front of the Lincoln Center fountain where so many of Altman's masterpieces (including Nashville) had premiered as part of the New York Film Festival. I could not believe this picturesque, incredibly well-staged stroke of fate. And so I long cried and cried for Bob, the director, in 2006, right there in the middle of New York City.

Film #63: High Plains Drifter

High Plains Drifter, Clint Eastwood's oddly scary initital directorial foray into the Western genre has Clint himself again playing a silent stranger who ambles into a small desert berg populated only by villains, cowards, and helpless townspeople. When a gang of escaped convicts returns to wreak vengeful havoc on the town, its inhabitants naturally turn to this enigmatic gunman for protection, thereby giving him complete license to kill and maim at will...which is what he wanted in the first place!

This energetic, eerie oater scripted by Ernest Tidyman (The French Connection, Shaft) was director Eastwood's darkest film until he captured kudos in 1991 for the similarly somber Unforgiven (this film often seems like a trial run for that Best Picture winner). This first portent of Eastwood's filmmaking proclivity is filled with deep-dyed images: the town is inexplicably painted a bright, bloody red; Eastwood atop his horse, disappearing and reappearing in the desert's mirage-bound heat; the fiery, whip-snapping, disorienting climax played out again cinematographer Bruce Surtee's trademarked nighttimes. It also sports one of my favorite movie posters of all time, a beautiful red-tinted view of Clint in near-action mode.

And, to boot, it has a great supporting cast: Geoffrey Lewis (a sniveling villain, as usual), Mitchell Ryan, Anthony James, Mariana Hill, John Hillerman, Verna Bloom, Richard Bull, and Billy Curtis, who steals the show as the dwarf who manages the local hotel and becomes deputy under the stranger. Curtis's performance ranks with Tony Cox in Bad Santa, Michael Dunn in Ship of Fools, Zelda Rubenstein in Poltergeist, Billy Barty in The Day of the Locust and Night Patrol (ahahahhahaaha!!), and Peter Dinklage in The Station Agent as one of the great little-people performances of all time. See High Plains Drifter and try and count the goosebumps you get as it ends.

Film #62: The Fearless Vampire Killers, or: Pardon Me, But Your Teeth Are In My Neck

Director Roman Polanski earned another entry in his fantastic streak of masterpieces with 1967's aberrant, charming spoof of vampire movies that has Polanski himself portraying the assistant to a Van Helsing-like vampire hunter (the great Irish actor Jack McGowran), both of whom are determined to crash a grand ball for the undead, where they plan to annihilate all attendees. Former fashion model Sharon Tate, captivating in one of her most prominent screen roles, plays a peasant girl with whom Polanski falls in love, but who gets kidnapped by the bloodsuckers.
Polanski met Tate while casting for the film (at first, he wanted soon-to-be Bond girl Jill St. John). He ended up marrying her shortly after the filming concluded. Of course, this romance ended in the most horrible way possible, with Tate and her friends Jay Sebring, Voltek
Frykowski and Abigail Folger being the victims of the Charles Manson Family's murderous 1969 rampage. I still feel an indelible sense of sadness from Polanski's work because of this event (he dedicated his most romantic movie, Tess, "to Sharon"). Tate, stunning to look at and intelligent as well, was a blossoming star of great talent; she's the only worthwhile aspect to Valley of the Dolls, the campy, garish 1968 adaptation of Jacqueline Susann's monster best- seller (unless you're a gay man, you cannot possibly enjoy Valley of the Dolls, except for Tate). Anyway, the pain that Polanski has still had to endure regarding this event in his life has to be unimaginable. I feel for him, truly.

Upon its first release, MGM cut almost 20 minutes from The Fearless Vampire Killers (originally titled Dance of the Vampires) and added an animated intro, both of which many feel detract from the movie's effectiveness. It's not Chinatown or Repulsion, I will grant, but Polanski's brilliance still shines through, as does his love for Sharon Tate. For this alone, it's a must-see. The gloriously velveteen costumes are from Sophie Devine, the music is from Christopher Komeda (who also did the gentle theme to Rosemary's Baby and even has a band named after him), the rich cinematography comes courtesy of Douglas Slocombe (Raiders of the Lost Ark, The Lavender Hill Mob, Julia), and the clever script is by Polanski and longtime collaborator Gerard Brach (Tess, The Tenant, Jean De Florette, Bitter Moon).

Film #61: Duel

Fooling around on IGoogle's video collection, I recently found the full version of Steven Spielberg's 1971 TV movie Duel. Rewatching it again, I'm struck even more inescapably by how different it is from most Spielberg efforts--there's no John Williams music, no Michael Kahn editing, and the dust-splattered photography has a strictly TV-quality of realism to it. Of course, on the other hand, it's often quite Spielbergian, especially when secretively dealing with its one-of-a-kind villain.
Duel stars Dennis Weaver (then taking a break from his TV series McCloud) as David Mann, an everyman motorist with a failing marriage and a pressurized job situation who, while on a long desert drive, is suddenly terrorized by a rusted-out, demonic 18-wheeler truck. Who's the driver? A maniac? A force of nature? We never see him (well, maybe we see his boots, in one of those Spielberg touches I mentioned). Why is he mad at David Mann? We never find out (though we sense the driver finds Mann's general snootiness irritating). We're left with no answers, really. It's a weird, creepy movie, and distinctly 1970s-flavored (it was ripped off, by the way, in 1977 when James Brolin starred in The Car, one of the most hilariously bad "bad movies" ever made).

I sense that this evil machine has been placed in David Mann's way because it's the only way this guy will ever grow some balls. At least, that's what the Richard Matheson screenplay (based on his novel) leads me to conclude. Because Mann--get it?--is a severely castrated individual--his harried wife has no patience with him, and workwise he's always behind the eight ball. He's wound up tight from the first moment we see his car pulling out of his driveway (in a great credits sequence scored with only ancient 70s radio tracks). So his battle with the truck--with which he plays a lowly, confused victim numerous times--begs to be seen as a rite-of-passage for his long-delayed manhood.

Following Mann's 1970 orange Plymouth Duster through this hell is a taut, unsentimental experience. Matheson's screenplay is minimal and refreshing (a little different from some of those Twilight Zone episodes he's rightfully famous for). Frank Morriss' editing has a razor-edged crispness about it that totally screams for attention (he won an Emmy for his efforts, and later went on to edit such movies as Romancing the Stone and Inside Moves). And the sound, as usual for a Spielberg movie, is extremely evocative; creaking metal, roaring engines, flying sand, screeching tires and pained groans. This movie was such a massive ratings-getter on TV that it even got a rare theatrical release from Universal (other than Brian's Song and The Great Santini, it's the only other movie that I remember to achieve that status) and certainly led to Spielberg getting the Jaws assignment in 1974 (Duel often resembles Jaws in its creeping dread). In a Psycho/shower sort of way, it's unfairly affected my view of truck drivers ever since I saw it when I was eight or so, and I bet it had a similar effect on many other viewers. (What's more frightening that being beside on of those monster 18-wheelers on the highway? They literally blow you off the road!)

At any rate, if you want to see how one of our leading filmmakers cut his teeth, click below to see Duel in its full glory!!! Check it out.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

The U.S. of A at 24 Frames Per Second: 200 American Movies Movie-Obsessed Americans Should See

Of course, July 4th has just passed, so I thought I would serve my country in the best way I know how: by talking about our movie heritage. More specifically, I have decided to list 200 important films that I feel best represent the true nature of America, warts and all. I won't bore you with a long intro--I'd rather you read about the movies than subject you to some wind-bagged soliloquy on our country's blah blah blah. So, we start with:

THE TOP TEN AMERICAN HERITAGE MOVIES OF ALL TIME:

(1) Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (Frank Capra, 39)
A righteous young senator stands up to a crooked Washington political machine.

(2) The Right Stuff (Philip Kaufman, 83)
The innovative Apollo space flights get underway as America begins a Cold War race with the Russians.

(3) The New World (Terrence Malick, 2006)
English ships sail to the shores of what will be America, and the Indian natives are stunned. The founding of our country, for better or worse, with an angelic, adventurous Indian woman as our guide.

(4) Bound for Glory (Hal Ashby, 76)
Songwriter Woody Guthrie travels the USA, guitar in hand, and discovers what he really always knew: this land is your land.

(5) All The President’s Men (Alan J. Pakula, 76)
Freedom of the press in action; the unveiling of Watergate and a presidency’s most dire crisis.

(6) The Grapes of Wrath (John Ford, 40)
The Dust Bowl challenge the resiliency of heartland families escaping to the west, where they find that life is not so easy.

(7) Manhattan (Woody Allen, 79)
A romantic ode to the USA’s finest city, and a survey of modern American male/female intrigue.

(8) Primary, Crisis, and Faces of November (Robert Drew, 60-64)
The entire trajectory of JFK's presidency. In Primary, the cameras are intimate as JFK and Hubert Humphrey face off at the start of the 1960 presidential race. In Crisis, JFK and RFK juggle family and work as they confront Alabama governor George Wallace, who's literally standing in the way as two black students plan to enter the all-white halls of an Alabama university. And Faces of November quietly, sadly documents the JFK's funeral and the shattered reactions of citizens commemorating the president's death.

(9) Tucker, The Man and His Dream (Francis Coppola, 88)
The entrepreneurial spirit thrives as an optimistic visionary challenges Detroit automakers to build a better mousetrap.

(10) 12 Angry Men (Sidney Lumet, 57)
Our jury system hard at work.

The rest are separated out by subject matter, and are listed in order of their importance within these separations:

POLITICS
(11) Nashville (Robert Altman, 75)
A large cast of peculiar characters descends upon a third-party political rally in Tennessee’s country music capital.
(12) Point of Order! (Emile De Antonio, 64)
The 50s-era Communist witchhunt hears its death knell as its chief perpetrators are vanquished.
(13) Seven Days in May (John Frankenheimer, 64)
A warhawk general attempts a military coup of America, with a weakened president as his nemesis.
(14) Being There (Hal Ashby, 79)
A simple-minded, middle-aged gardener ventures out of his Washington DC home for the first time and is befriended by a politically-connected kingmaker and his wife.
(15) The Candidate (Michael Richie, 72)
A young California senatorial candidate sadly loses his political naivete while striving for victory.
(16) Missing (Costa-Gavras, 82)
A loving married couple living in Chile witness the acts of the brutal Allende regime (and its American backers), with horrifying results that call into service the strict presence of the husband's patriotic father.
(17) Medium Cool (Haskell Wexler, 69)
An unscrupulous TV reporter is shaken by events surrounding the riotous 1968 Chicago Democratic convention.
(18) Primary Colors (Mike Nichols, 98)
Cut-throat presidential politics, fueled by ambition, service, dirty tricks and irresponsible sex.
(19) Lincoln (Steven Spielberg, 2012)
With a country divided and at war, a harried president tries to mend the schism at its core.
(20) The Best Man (Franklin J. Schaffner, 64)
Two presidential candidates (for an unnamed party) combat each other and their own pasts to win the prized nomination.
(21) Advise and Consent (Otto Preminger, 62)
A new Secretary of State is to be appointed; the president's first choice for the post is run through the wringer by a divided Senate willing to argue it at even the cost of their own lives.

JUSTICE
(22) Fury (Fritz Lang, 36)
A gentleman mistakenly nabbed for murder faces the threats of mob violence before he can prove his innocence.
(23) The Thin Blue Line (Errol Morris, 85)
Texas drifter Randall Cobb is accused of and jailed for a crime he didn’t commit.
(24) Cutter’s Way (Ivan Passer, 81)
A lay-about sailboat salesman witnesses a wealthy man's murderous deeds, and finds himself goaded into action by his best friend, an embittered disabled Vietnam war veteran.
(25) The Verdict (Sidney Lumet, 82)
Failed Boston lawyer Frank Galvin is given a shot at a winning suit against some wreckless doctors and the Catholic Archdiocese that controls their hospital.
(26) The People Vs. Larry Flynt (Milos Forman, 96)
The early life of the famed porn king, whose stubborn confrontation of censorship issues are legend.
(27) Anatomy of a Murder (Otto Preminger, 59)
A small-town lawyer defends a soldier accused of killing a man he believes raped his very sexy wife.

HISTORY
(28) The complete works of Frederick Wiseman (67-present)
The genius documentary filmmaker profiles his multi-faceted country. His hard-to-find films: High School, Meat, The Store, State Legislature, Hospital, Missile, Public Housing, Model, Central Park, Aspen, Racetrack, Deaf, Blind, Multi-Handicapped, Zoo, Domestic Violence, Basic Training, Near Death, and his first work, a devastating look at a neglected insane asylum called Titicut Follies.
(29) Young Mr. Lincoln (John Ford, 39)
The greatest United States president is seen in his beginnings as a humble country lawyer.
(30) Wilson (Henry King, 44)
Our 28th President faces great personal tragedy, the onslaught of WWI and the resulting political intolerance.
(31) The General (Buster Keaton, 27)
During the Civil War, a Confederate reject tries to retrieve a locomotive stolen by Union spies.
(32) The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (John Ford, 62)
An experienced gunman and an Eastern lawyer--both in love with the same woman-- battle a gang of outlaws in their own ways, and thereby help carve civilization into the fabric of the West.
(33) Ragtime (Milos Forman, 81)
An amazing, sprawling pastiche of diverse American life folds in upon itself in 1900s New York.
(34) The Assassination of Jesse James by The Coward Robert Ford (Andrew Dominick, 07)
An adoring fan of western gunman Jesse James slowly turns against him, much to his later shame.
(35) Empire (Andy Warhol, 64)
An eight-hour shot of the USA’s most recognizable structure, the iconic Empire State Building, recorded by the country’s leading pop artist.

IMMIGRATION
(36) In America (Jim Sheridan, 02)
A charming Irish family strives to find a new life in 1970s-era New York.
(37) America, America (Elia Kazan, 63)
Moroccan immigrants settle uneasily on the shores of the United States.
(38) Moscow on the Hudson (Paul Mazursky, 84)
A Russian arrives in the US, and he's transformed and fascinated by its freedom and diversity.
(39) El Norte (Gregory Nava, 82)
Mexican immigrants excited about the promise of American life get a rude, rude awakening.
(40) Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan (Larry Charles, 06)
A curious but dunder-headed journalist from Kazakhstan enjoys his first taste of the USA, all for the good of Kazakstani television.

WAR
(41) Pork Chop Hill (Lewis Milestone, 59)
The US’s unrelentingly deadly battle against the Chinese army for control of a desolate Korean hill.
(42) Saving Private Ryan (Steven Spielberg, 98)
Arriving on D-Day’s Normandy beach, a band of US soldiers must find and rescue one of their own, a man who's been called back home after each of his brothers die in battle.
(43) The Red Badge of Courage (John Huston, 51)
A Union soldier experiences cowardice and bravery on a Civil War battlefield.
(44) Full Metal Jacket (Stanley Kubrick, 87)
The full trajectory of life as a Vietnam soldier, from boot camp to Hue City.
(45) They Were Expendable (John Ford, 45)
PT boats patrolling the Philippines are assigned a doomed mission they must carry out.
(46) The Why We Fight series (John Huston, Frank Capra, John Ford, et al., 43-45)
World War II as documented by Hollywood’s greatest filmmakers.
(47) Black Hawk Down(Ridley Scott, 01)
Mogadishu, Somalia, 1993, and unprepared US forces slog helplessly through a bloody war with the city's ruthless warlords.
(48) Sergeant York (Howard Hawks, 41)
A young man leaves his Southern home to excel as a soldier in the First World War.
(49) Hearts and Minds (Peter Davis, 74)
Vietnam unfiltered.

THE AMERICAN FAMILY
(50) The Magnificent Ambersons (Orson Welles, 42)
A once-great turn-of-the-century family sees its fortunes change upon the arrival of the automobile.
(51) It’s a Wonderful Life (Frank Capra, 46)
A downcast family man has a wish to have never been born granted by an angel sent to save him.
(52) Giant (George Stevens, 56)
Generations of the Benedict oil clan see attitudes change rapidly over years of Texas time.
(53) The Deer Hunter (Michael Cimino, 78)
A Pennsylvania steel town is touched by the tragedies of the Vietnam conflict.
(54) Breaking Away (Peter Yates, 79)
Four young Indiana friends combat their university town’s classism by competing in a bike race.
(55) Sherman’s March and Time Indefinite (Ross McElwee, 86-93)
A lovelorn filmmaker seeking to trace Sherman’s destructive Civil War path through the South instead turns his camera towards a host of Southern females, eventually finding familial death, love, marriage and fatherhood at his quest’s “end.”
(56) The Sullivans (Lloyd Bacon, 44)
The heroic Sullivans make the ultimate of ultimate sacrifices during WWII.
(57) The Human Comedy (Clarence Brown, 43)
A small town telegraph boy takes care of his mother and siblings while his brother goes off to war.
(58) Kramer Vs. Kramer (Robert Benton, 79)
A New York ad exec sees his neglected marriage fall apart, but thereby enjoys a new and deeper relationship with his 8-year-old son.
(59) Little Women (Gillian Armstrong, 94)
A New England family of women find joy, independence and sorrow as the father is away at war.
(60) Ordinary People (Robert Redford, 80)
A well-to-do New England family is shattered by the accidental death of the oldest son and the attempted suicide of his guilt-ridden brother.
(61) A Soldier’s Daughter Never Cries (James Ivory, 98)
A family of intellectual expatriates living in France find their American heritage difficult to conceal.
(62) Best Boy (Ira Wohl, 79)
A 50-ish mentally challenged man prepares for independence from his doting, aging parents.
(63) Ulee’s Gold (Victor Nunez, 97)
Ulee, a taciturn Florida beekeeper and a prideful cultivator of Tupelo honey, juggles exhausting work and a deteriorating family, with troubles to come he could not have envisioned.
(64) Places in the Heart (Robert Benton, 84)
A newly widowed Texas woman struggles to keep a roof over her children’s head by going into the backbreaking business of cotton farming.
(65) The World According to Garp (George Roy Hill, 83)
A young writer and his feminist mother encounter cultural and familial storms as their successes rise.

SPORTS
(66) The Pride of the Yankees (Sam Wood, 42)
Lou Gehrig, the record-holding New York baseball legend, faces the battle of his life, with his loving wife at his side.
(67) Rocky (John G. Avildsen, 76)
A losing Philadelphia boxer gets a one-time miracle shot at romance and the heavyweight title.
(68) The Natural (Barry Levinson, 84)
The greatest baseball player America’s ever seen has his mythic present disrupted by a dark and forboding past.
(69) Hoosiers (David Anspaugh, 86)
A troubled coach finds it difficult to win the trust of his players and the basketball-crazed rural Indiana town that roots for them.
(70) The Longest Yard (Robert Aldrich, 74)
Two of America’s obsessions, prison and football, collide in an exciting fashion as the inmates of a Georgia lock-up are pitted against the Guards in an exhibition game, with a jailed former pro quarterback as their leader.

JOY AND PATRIOTISM
(71) Meet Me in St. Louis (Vincente Minnelli, 44)
The Smith family, in turn-of-the-century Missouri, joyously perform numbers from the American songbook while finding love and change affecting their lives.
(72) The Music Man (Morton De Costa, 62)
A tricky travelling salesman of band instruments has his heart stolen by an Iowa town, all against the backdrop of a local Fourth of July celebration.
(73) On The Town (Gene Kelly and Stanley Donen, 49)
Four sailors on leave for the weekend in New York City search for fun and romance.
(74) Bronco Billy (Clint Eastwood, 80)
The close-knit, idiosyncratic members of a modern traveling Wild West show stir patriotism in the hearts of their audiences.
(75) Field of Dreams (Phil Alden Robinson, 89)
An Iowa cornfield becomes the site of a magical occurance involving baseball, literature, community service, and fatherhood.
(76) Oklahoma! (Fred Zinnemann, 56)
Two cowboys struggle for love in the wide-open Oklahoma territory circa 1904

PERSONAL SACRIFICE
(77) Casablanca (Michael Curtiz, 42)
Rick and Ilsa may have to forsake their passion for the good of the war effort, with the exotic locale as backdrop.
(78) To Kill A Mockingbird (Robert Mulligan, 62)
His children watch carefully as 30s-era Southern lawyer Atticus Finch fights local racism and injustice.
(79) Mister Roberts (John Ford and Mervyn LeRoy, 55)
Navy men itch to get in the 1940s fight but end up instead sitting fatally bored on a non-combat cargo ship.
(80) Apollo 13 (Ron Howard, 95)
The tale of a troubled mission to the moon.
(81) The Wild Bunch (Sam Peckinpah, 69)
A group of mercenary gunmen face a moral dilemma when one of their members is kidnapped and tortured by Mexican rebels.
(82) 1941 (Steven Spielberg, 79)
The Japanese attack the coast of 1940s California, with chaotic and hilarious results.
(83) Raggedy Man (Jack Fisk, 81)
A lonely mother of two in a small Texas town circa 1943 launches a fleeting romance with a jilted sailor on his way to war.

CIVIL RIGHTS
(84) Do the Right Thing (Spike Lee, 89)
Summer heat raises racial tensions embedded in a Brooklyn neighborhood’s diverse population.
(85) King: A Filmed Record…Montgomery to Memphis (Sidney Lumet and Joseph L. Mankiewicz, 70)
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, caught on film in his quest for the country’s civil rights.
(86) Glory (Edward Zwick, 89)
The story of America’s first all-black calvalry regiment, assigned to fight Civil War Confederates.
(87) The Times of Harvey Milk (Rob Epstein, 84)
The inspiring and tragic story of America’s first elected gay official.
(88) 9 to 5 (Colin Higgins, 1980)
Three women literally fight sexism in the office.

INDIVIDUALITY
(89) All Bugs Bunny Warner Brothers cartoons (Chuck Jones, Friz Freling, Bob Clampett, Tex Avery, Robert McKimson, Mel Blanc [voice], et al., 40-2008)
America’s leading smart-ass bests all comers with humor, craftiness, confidence and intelligence.
(90) Reds (Warren Beatty, 81)
Jack Reed and Louise Bryant, left-wing journalists witnessing the 1917 Russian Revolution, have their love, lives and beliefs put to the test.
(91) The Straight Story (David Lynch, 99)
Longing to visit his dying brother, a tortured old man travels across many states on his riding lawnmower, assisted along the way by an assortment of sympathetic friends.
(92) Frank Lloyd Wright (Ken Burns, 98)
The acclaimed American architect’s life is given a colorful overview.
(93) Forrest Gump (Robert Zemeckis, 94)
A loving, slow-witted man bumbles his way through the historical events of the 20th Century’s latter half.
(94) Harry and Tonto (Paul Mazursky, 74)
Thrown out of his NYC apartment, an elderly man travels cross-country to visit each of his children, with his faithful cat Tonto in tow.
(95) Patton (Franklin J. Schaffner, 70)
WWII’s maverick General George S. Patton and his undying devotion to military ideals.
(96) Citizen’s Band/Handle with Care (Jonathan Demme, 77)
A group of middle-American CB enthusiasts are inextricably connected by their communications with one another.
(97) Ed Wood (Tim Burton, 94)
A Hollywood B-movie filmmaker contributes his every fiber towards his unusual cinematic vision.
(98) Conrack (Martin Ritt, 74)
A Southern writer accepts a job teaching poor rural black children how to read and write.
(99) The Dirty Dozen (Robert Aldrich, 67)
A tough WWII sergeant whips into shape an antagonistic group of jailed soldiers in order to train them for a deadly mission against the Nazis.
(100) Catch Me If You Can (Steven Spielberg, 02)
The can-do American spirit of reinvention and innovation is embodied in the form of an impossibly clever young con-man.
(101) Jimmy’s Story (Billy Yeager, 03)
A struggling white Florida musician gains what recognition he can by posing as the illigimate son of Jimi Hendrix.
(102) American Movie (Chris Smith and Sarah Price, 99)
A nearly hopeless Wisconsin filmmaker attempts to overcome his personal demons to complete his first film, a horror movie called Coven.

PROTEST
(103) The Insider (Michael Mann, 99)
Cigarette execs attempt to silence a disgruntled, sorrowful scientist ready to talk on TV’s 60 Minutes about nicotine’s absolute addictiveness.
(104) Hair (Milos Forman, 78)
A band of friendly hippies meet up with a green, Midwestern inductee into the Vietnam-era army and, together, they experience the wonders of 1960s NYC.
(105) Born on the Forth of July (Oliver Stone, 89)
Patriotic soldier Ron Kovic returns home from Vietnam a politically awakened paraplegic.
(106) Running on Empty (Sidney Lumet, 88)
A family of long-in-hiding underground radicals are dazed when their son wants independence from them.
(107) The China Syndrome (James Bridges, 79)
A nuclear power plant reaches its meltdown point and a low-level TV reporter joins with one of the plant’s managers to expose the danger.

WORK AND WEALTH
(108) Salesman (Albert & David Maysles and Charlotte Zwerlin, 68)
Door-to-door Bible salesmen ply The Word, with pressures put on them to succeed at all costs.
(109) Citizen Kane (Orson Welles, 41)
Capitalism, ambition and pride run roughshod over a millionaire’s once-great ideals.
(110) Modern Times (Charles Chaplin, 36)
A lowly factory grunt is driven mad by the unthinkable demands of industrial work life.
(111) Matewan (John Sayles, 87)
A West Virginia coal mining town is disrupted by a clash between union supporters and the cruel, unfeeling company that employs them.
(112A and 112B) Harlan County USA and American Dream (Barbara Kopple, 76/90)
America’s greatest female director looks at two impassioned union/corporate conflicts: the first at an Appalachian coal mine, the next at a Midwestern meat-packing plant.
(113) Red River (Howard Hawks, 48)
Herds of cattle are driven hundreds of miles by an anguished band of overworked cowboys.
(114) It’s a Gift (Norman Z. McCleod, 34)
A grumpy family man withstands an endless array of headaches while on the road to wealth.
(115) Norma Rae (Martin Ritt, 79)
A southern textile worker’s life is enriched and troubled by the possible unionization of her factory.
(116) Used Cars (Robert Zemeckis, 80)
Two rival used car salesmen in L.A. compete ruthlessly with each other for the customer’s cash.
(117) The Music Box (James Parrott and Hal Roach, 32)
Laurel and Hardy attempt to deliver a piano, with their only obstacle being a loooooooooong flight of stairs.

RELIGION
(118) Oh, God! (Carl Reiner, 77)
A supermarket manager is embroiled in a media frenzy after he’s visited by God and charged with delivering a message to mankind.
(119) The Gods of Times Square (Richard Sandler, 99)
The 1990s bring change to the NYC site as religious zealots of all stripes jarringly speak out.
(120) Wise Blood (John Huston, 79)
A crooked street evangelist encounters a series of strange characters while traveling the South.
(121) Inherit The Wind (Stanley Kramer, 62)
The debate over Evolutionism vs. Creationism finds a home in a 30s-era southern town trying to jail a man for teaching Darwin's theories to his students.
(122) The Master (Paul Thomas Anderson, 2012)
A cult leader and a determined individualist both clash and become best friends.

CHILDREN AND TEENAGERS
(123) A Little Romance (George Roy Hill, 79)
An American girl and a French boy, both with high I.Q.s, fall in love and plot together to steal away, from Paris to Venice, in order to fulfill a dream that will seal their love forever.
(124) American Graffiti (George Lucas, 73)
On the 1960s crest of young adulthood, a California town’s teens cruise the streets one final time.
(125) Dazed and Confused (Richard Linklater, 93)
It’s the Fourth of July in 1970s Texas as college-bound local teens face up to their uncertain futures.
(126) Rushmore (Wes Anderson, 99)
An ambitious private school kid impresses all who encounter him with his precocious genius.
(127) Smile (Michael Richie, 75)
A small-town beauty pageant highlights the US-flavored combo of sex and competition.
(128) All Little Rascals shorts (Hal Roach, et al., 22-44)
Early 20th Century American childhood exuberantly captured on film.
(129) E.T. The Extraterrestial (Steven Spielberg, 82)
A California boy strikes up a secret friendship with a benevolent alien from another galaxy.
(130) George Washington (David Gordon Green, 00)
Modern life as seen through the eyes of a group of Southern black children.
(131) Fast Times at Ridgemont High (Amy Heckerling, 82)
The goings-on at an average California high school.

CRIME AND VIOLENCE
(132) The Zapruder Film (Abraham Zapruder, 63)
The assassination of our 35th President, the 20th Century's most notorious crime, miraculously caught on 8mm.
(133A and 133 B) The Godfather and The Godfather Part II (Francis Ford Coppola, 72-74)
Three generations of the Corleone crime family navigate the 20th Century with bloody brute force.
(134) Dr. Strangelove, or: How I Stopped Worrying and Love the Bomb (Stanley Kubrick, 64)
An accidental-on-purpose attack on Russia reaches its Doomsday conclusion, and is seen through the views of a British RAF officer, the harried political inhabitants of an underground war room, and the in-flight members of a determined B-52 crew.
(135) Unforgiven (Clint Eastwood, 92)
A former gunslinger is coaxed back into the violent world he now reviles in order to avenge the slashing of a nearby prostitute by one of her customers.
(136) Taxi Driver (Martin Scorsese, 76)
Travis Bickle, a NYC cabbie, is driven by loneliness to destroy the perceived enslavement of a young prostitute.
(137) GoodFellas (Martin Scorsese, 90)
A New York crime family’s rise and fall.
(138) Bonnie and Clyde (Arthur Penn, 67)
The famed bank robbing lovers barrel their way to a bloody end.
(139) Elephant (Gus Van Sant, 03)
Two teenagers answer the bullying of their peers by staging a bloody mass murder.
(141) No Country for Old Men (Joel and Ethan Coen, 07)
A Texas man's discovery of a hidden fortune leads to a long line of dead bodies.
(142) Gun Crazy (Joseph H. Lewis, 50)
An adventurous femme fatale convinces an admirer to go on a bank-robbing spree.
(143) Bowling for Columbine (Michael Moore, 02)
An examination of the American fascination with firearms.
(142) Testament (Lynne Littman, 83)
A San Francisco family feels the distant aftermath of a nuclear war.
(143) The Day After (Nicholas Meyer, 84)
Lawrence, Kansas is hit by a nuclear bomb, and its inhabitants suffer its horrific results.
(144) Dirty Harry (Don Siegel, 71)
A nonconformist San Francisco detective fights to vanquish a crazed serial killer.

MUSIC
(145) Woodstock (Michael Wadleigh, 70)
The rocking sights and sounds of the largest and most famous peace gathering of 1960s America.
(146) Coal Miner’s Daughter (Michael Apted, 80)
Loretta, a Kentucky girl in a destitute mining town, travels the USA with her determined husband Doolittle Lynn and becomes country music’s biggest superstar.
(147) Jazz on a Summer’s Day (Aram Avakian and Bert Stern, 60)
Cinema’s first concert film, highlighting the sounds of the USA’s most original contribution to world music.
(148) American Hot Wax (Floyd Mutrux, 78)
A look at Cleveland DJ Alan Freed, the man who allegedly coined the term “rock n’ roll.”
(150) Stop Making Sense (Jonathan Demme, 84)
A vibrant, unforgettable concert performance delivered by art-rockers Talking Heads.
(151) The Last Waltz (Martin Scorsese, 78)
The final, star-studded Thanksgiving concert staged by those masters of Americana, The Band.
(152) Monterey Pop (D.A. Pennebaker, 69)
The original rock and roll Event.
(153) Wild Style (Charlie Ahearn, 83)
The premier document of the Hip Hop movement's birth.
(154) Don’t Look Back (D.A. Pennebaker, 67)
America’s poet, Bob Dylan, tours the UK.
(155A and 155B) Heavy Metal Parking Lot and Neil Diamond Parking Lot (Jeff Krulik, 86/96)
The fans of heavy metal act Judas Priest, and then light rock act Neil Diamond, hang out on differing nights in the parking lot outside the concert venue, all the while extolling the virtues of their idols to the roaming camera.
(156) Yankee Doodle Dandy (Michael Curtiz, 42)
In song and dance, the rich life of legendary American showman George M. Cohan.
(157) Champion Blues (Alethea Rogers, 02)
The story of Mickey Champion, a stunningly talented but now nearly forgotten L.A. blues singer
(158) The Decline of Western Civilization (Penelope Spheeris, 81)
The beginnings of and participants in the often shocking L.A. punk movement of the 1980s.

CULTURE
(159) Network (Sidney Lumet, 76)
A TV newsman threatens to commit suicide on the air and thereby launches a new career as a sage truthteller—and the network is there to exploit him every step of the way.
(160) A Decade Under the Influence (Ted Demme and Richard LaGravanese, 03)
An overview of the 1970s film culture, possibly the greatest period in cinematic history.
(161) The Day of the Locust (John Schlesinger, 75)
Nathaniel West’s daunting novella is given life, portraying the unimaginable terrors of 30s-era Hollywood.
(162) Barton Fink (Joel and Ethan Coen, 90)
A heady New York playwright travels to Hollywood and struggles with the writing of a wrestling movie.
(163) Radio Days (Woody Allen, 87)
The director recalls childhood episodes centered around his family’s favorite radio shows.
(164) Good Night, and Good Luck (George Clooney, 05)
The dramatic 50s-era rivalry between legendary TV newsman Edward R. Murrow and communist-hunting senator Joe McCarthy.
(165) The complete works of Stan Brakhage (1952-2003)
The joy and revelation of cinematic experimentation.
(166) America at the Movies (George Stevens Jr., 76)
A comprehensive survey of the then-AFI-approved 100 Greatest Movies of All Time.
(167) Sullivan’s Travels (Preston Sturges, 41)
A comedy filmmaker attempts a dramatic project, researching it by becoming a train-bound hobo.
(168) Broadway: The Golden Age, by the Legends Who Were There (Rick McKay, 03)
The early history of New York’s Great White Way, with over 200 of its stars as witnesses.
(169) My Favorite Year (Richard Benjamin, 82)
A 50s-era writer for live TV remembers his one-time relationship with a booze-sodden Hollywood idol.
(170) Fantasia (Various directors, Leopold Stokowski [music], Walt Disney, 40)
A variety of classical music pieces are given animated interpretation.
(171) Steamboat Willie (Walt Disney, 28)
The first screen appearance of Mickey Mouse.

OUR LIVES TODAY
(172) No End in Sight (Charles Ferguson, 07)
The War in Iraq, clearly laid out for all to survey.
(173) Sicko (Michael Moore, 07)
The controversial film essayist turns his attentions to the rising costs of health care in America.
(174) Maxed Out: Hard Times, Easy Credit and The Era of Predatory Lenders (James Scurlock, 06)
Consumers in the USA struggle desperately with mounting, unmanageable debt.
(175) Unprecedented: The 2000 Presidential Election (Richard Ray Perez and Joan Sekler, 02)
The outcome of the titular election is wholly, hotly contested by both sides.
(176) When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts (Spike Lee, 06)
A look at the disasterous effects of Hurricane Katrina on the great city of New Orleans, and at our government's irresponsible failure to react properly.
(177) Office Space (Mike Judge, 99)
A cubicled office employee bucks workplace politics and chases love with the frustrated waitress at a cheesy local chain restaurant.
(178) Traffic (Steven Soderburgh, 00)
The American fight against the influx of cocaine is seen through the eyes of a Washington official with an addicted daughter, a Mexican lawman combatting his government's corruption, and the wife of a California drug lord struggling mightily to keep her family and home intact.
(179) United 93 (Paul Greengrass, 06)
The passengers on one of 9/11’s doomed flights bravely take matters into their own hands.
(180) Little Children (Todd Fields, 06)
A dissatisfied wife begins an passionate affair with a nearby family man; meanwhile, the town is scared and outraged by a convicted sex offender who’s moved back into their neighborhood.


AND 20 TITLES I FORGOT TO INCLUDE:
181) The Jerk (Carl Reiner, 79)
The American dream gets a ripe razzing.
182) Punishment Park (Peter Watkins, 71)
In a possible future America, draconian measures are taken to control dissenting voices.
183) American Pop (Ralph Bakshi, 81)
American music, animated in total.
184) Last Night at the Alamo (Eagle Pennell, 83)
The sodden patrons at a Texas bar get together for one final time before the place is razed.
185) The Apostle (Robert Duvall, 97)
A deeply religious man has to go on the run after committing a mortal sin, and thus finds his true soul.
186) Inside Job (Charles Ferguson, 2010)
The premier indictment of those involved in the U.S. financial meltdown.
187) Jazz (Ken Burns, 2001)
The filmmaker documents the creation and propagation of America's one truly indigenous art form.
188) The Living Desert (James Algar, Walt Disney, 53)
Animal and plant life in a US desert, perfectly dramatized.
189) Little Women (Gillian Armstrong, 94)
The brilliant, moving adaptation of Louisa May Alcott's novel dealing with a post-Civil War family in New England.
190) All That Jazz (Bob Fosse, 79)
A successful filmmaker and Broadway director faces his demons, and Death.
191) My Darling Clementine (John Ford, 46)
Wyatt Earp, Doc Holliday, and the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral.
192) Mystery Train (Jim Jarmusch, 89)
The world converges, in one day, upon the blues-soaked town of Memphis, Tennessee.
193) Pennies From Heaven (Herbert Ross, 81)
The 1930s Depression gets a singular musical treatment.
194) The Best Years of Our Lives (William Wyler, 46)
A set of afflicted military friends deal with coming home after World War II.
195) You Can Count On Me (Kenneth Lonergan, 2000)
An average family, in unusual circumstances.
196) Los Angeles Plays Itself (Thom Andersen, 2003)
A love letter to a city, as seen through the history of film.
197) Easy Rider (Dennis Hopper, 69)
They went searching for America...and they blew it.
198) 12 Years A Slave (Steve McQueen, 2013)
A stunning tale of freedom stolen.
199) Shadow of a Doubt (Alfred Hitchcock, 43)
Middle-America gets a taste of the sinister, as a family deals with the arrival of an uncle who is a wanted serial killer
200) Since You Went Away (John Cromwell et al., 44)
An American family deals with life on the homefront during World War II.

For the record, John Ford stands as America's most important filmmaker with seven entries, and 1979 stands as the century's most patriotic year with 12 titles.

I hope you all had a happy July the 4th. God bless America.